OBJECTORS have forced a council to temporarily halt the sale of a former school all-weather pitch to a developer.

Local residents were furious that senior councillors had authorised the disposal of a rare piece of open space in Blackburn for new homes.

Last month, householders on Old Gates Drive vowed to oppose the land sale, part of a proposal for 29 new homes at Lomond Gardens in the Green Lane area.

The plot, used as an all-weather pitch for St Bede’s Roman Catholic High School until 1997, was sold subject to final confirmation in March to McDermott Homes as part of development land for up to 35 homes.

But after 58 residents objected to the scheme, Blackburn with Darwen Council has temporarily halted the sale of the land, which was to be used to build an access road.

A letter to the objectors said: “Although it was certainly not the only element for objection, many objections were on the basis of highways grounds and a potential access to the proposed housing site via Old Gates Drive, Blackburn. For this reason, the council believes it is sensible at this time to postpone the process until the proposed developer has confirmed the access point for the development.”

Protest leader Kevin Allcock said: “I am delighted. This is wonderful news.

“I am glad we have halted the sale of the land temporarily but now we need to stop it permanently.

“We need to keep it as green space.

“We are considering submitting a petition to the council asking that it be used as allotments for local residents and for educational purposes by the school.”

Livesey with Pleasington ward councillor Derek Hardman said: “I am pleased the council has put a temporary halt to the sale. Now we need to stop it totally. Otherwise what is to stop estate developers coming back to the council to build more houses on land designated as green space? The selling of protected open space as part of a development is simply wrong when other options are available.”

Cllr Phil Riley, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s regeneration boss, said: “It seemed sensible to put the sale on hold until the developer came back with plans for accessing the new estate. It may not need this land.”